Guest Post: Kelly Jo on Residency

15 January 2012

Editor's note: This guest post is long overdue.  Kelly Jo kindly and promptly wrote this a long time ago around the time when Sebastian was birthed. I hope she accepts my apology for its unbelievably tardy debut.

Kelly Jo is one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met. She recentlyish married Ben who happens to be the most talented and hilarious storyteller I've ever met. Ben and Simon went to med school together and Ben was kind enough to be in our wedding where he accidentally donned a navy blue blazer for our wedding photos (making for a hilarious story to add to his arsenal of fun). Ben was lucky enough to be present when Simon and I met (again) for the first time in South Bend back in October of 2007. 

Whenever I feel the need to complain about Simon's 'horrific' schedule I am quickly reminded of Ben's even worse schedule as a surgery intern and try not to complain quite as loudly as I had planned to initially.  I have a lot to learn from Kelly Jo in the way of complaining less about residency. In the mean time, she patiently tolerates my frustrated emails and offers e-solidarity.

Kelly Jo keeps an adorable blog about life with Ben and their mischievous pup, Trudy. And for the record, the dance floor at their wedding trumped all dance floors at all weddings past, present, and future. 

When Grace asked me to do a guest post and take over as engineer of the complain train while little CBass get’s situated, I just couldn’t resist.  Not only is Grace one of my favorite people and the source of daily laughs, but I have a lot that I can relate to her on.
The need for chocolate creamer.
Having one of the youngest members of the house drink out of the toilet and eat dog food.  Although my little Trudy has a teensie bit of an excuse.
And probably at the top of the list, we are both the adoring wives of two intern residents.
If there is ever someone I can send a late night message to complaining about the fact that my hubsters is still in the OR, it’s Grace.
So, when she presented me with the subject of
“What Has Surprised Me About the First Year of Residency” it sounded perfect.
Hence...the following rant:

Resident Evil: The Life of an Intern’s Wife
Ben and I got married back in June, so we are the true definition of newlyweds.  We skipped the honeymoon and headed directly to the majestic paradise of Wichita, Kansas where he one week later began his residency in general surgery.  I had been warned of some of the things to expect, but nothing can quite prepare you for the truth about the evils of intern year.

#1 My Husband Turned Into a Zombie
Let’s just talk about the past two months.  September and October were the dreaded transplant rotation.  Now you hear horror stories about being married to a resident, but none of them really do justice to the horrible schedule that is known as transplant.
To paint you a picture, this last week my hubsters was out the door by 4:30am and didn’t get home until 11pm or later each night.  Now, I knew the hours would be long and he would be tired, but I had nooooo idea they would be this drastic.  There were even some nights in there where he wouldn’t get home until 1:30 in the morning and would be back out the door within a few hours.
So, needless to say, when I did see my hubby dearest, he was a sleepy eyed version of the man I once knew.  Unrecognizable if it weren’t for the aqua scrubs that he donned 24/7.  I found that in these last few months I talked more to the Trudesters then I did to him. Which sometimes wasn’t so bad...she at least appreciates my freestyle raps.  So yeah, those two months were a nightmare, but thankfully that rotation was over faster than Kim Kardashian’s marriage and all is much, much, much better now.

#2 The Blood
“Honey, one of the scrubs will need to be spot treated.  I got some brain blood on it.”
That isn’t a sentence that most people would expect to hear in their first month of marital bliss, but I got lucky.
I don’t think that I will ever get used to all of the blood.  It’s on his shoes, his scrubs, his undershirts.  Plus, if that doesn’t gross you out enough, (for those squeamish you might want to scroll down), last week he had to have some tests done because he had blood squirted in his eye!  Just when you think you’ve had an exciting day, blood in the eye will always trump any story you had in your pocket.  Cue sad trombome.  Back to the tests - thankfully they all came back negative, but that isn’t something that you even want to cross your mind when your man is off at work.  Plus it’s just....mega gross.

#3 Things That Go Beep In The Night
If the hours weren’t enough to whine about, let’s just talk about the beeper.  I am trying to think of a way to describe that little black thing without using any profanity, but it is proving to be a struggle.  All hours of the night...BEEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!
What’s worse than the beeper pages is trying to get my zombie husband to rise from the dead to answer them.  My initial whispery “Hey honey, your pager is going off” slowly has to escalate into “Ben Flippin Jordan! Wake up! People are dying left and right!”
No bueno.  No bueno at all.  I hate that little contraption and if Trudy somehow chewed it up, I don’t think that I would mind one little bit.

However, it hasn’t been all that bad.  Yes, it’s fun to complain but I actually feel like I’ve learned about being a good wife from being tossed into the horror story of residency.  Being a resident’s wife has taught me to be less selfish and more supportive.  It gives me an even better reason to make home a place where my husband wants to be.  I’ve developed new friendships with other women who are going through the same thing and have found those friendships to be a source of mutual support.  I have become quite the handy-woman and tackled projects and learned skills that I never thought I would.  Plus, I have found joy in writing about and sharing all of these day to day life tidbits.
So, here’s to all of the other resident wives out there: To alert husbands, bloodless laundry, and beeper free nights. *clink*

Keepin’ It Real,
~ Kelly Jo


  1. dude. this was so interesting! grace - you should do a whole new series on resident's wives.

    thanks for sharing kelley. you are a trooper. the blood alone would be enough to send me running for the hills.

  2. thanks for sharing; very insightful!

  3. Oh girls. I died--just died. Because I have been there for every single moment! Just some thoughts.
    1) Transplant sucks. So does night float. So does home call, and Q3. UGH.
    2) Does Ben not have a scrub service in his hospital? He really shouldn't be wearing the bloody stuff home. My doc and I have come to an agreement that works for both of us - he changes (and gets new scrubs from the machine) at the end of the day/night, and changes before coming home. He comes home, sleeps, and puts back on the clean scrubs for the next day.
    That way he's never bringing god-knows-what home on his scrubs...especially since we had a baby.
    2.5) We''ve switched from the blood of surgical intern year to urine. EWWWWWWW. My husband is a urologist, so getting shot in the eye with pee is an almost-daily situation. Again. EWWWWWW!
    3) I have nightmares about that ridiculous beeping. Seriously. Thank god he always always always wakes up within the first round, or he might find himself sleeping in the guest room. That being said...since it's usually a page about a catheter (stupid freakin' medical residents can't EVER seem to place a simple foley)...let's just say I know a lot about how to change a problematic catheter. Weird.

    So glad to read this and know we're not alone! Such a strange life we lead--but worth every moment to see how The Doc thinks going into the hospital each day is kind of like Christmas morning. I've been with this man since college, and been thru a masters degree and med school with him too. Watching him become "a real doctor" is pretty amazing, bloody urine and 2am pages aside. Thanks for the commiseration!

  4. No idea how I stumbled across Camp Patton, but I love reading it, if only to commiserate. My husband is a general surgery resident, and although he's now R3, I can't say things are all that much better (schedule-wise) than they were intern year. We still only had him for 1/2 of Christmas (after being on for 27 hours straight), we have to plan any vacation a year in advance, and I have to cover pretty much all aspects of our lives aside from his job. That includes our kids (1 and 3) and in June, a newborn, too.

    Crazy as it sounds, I think the only thing that keeps me sane is having a full-time job- somewhere I can sit and "relax" without little hands clamoring for something 24-7. So I am totally impressed that you (Grace) manage to hold it together being home with two little ones and a resident husband.

    Keep writing- it is cathartic to read your posts and know that others understand just what our family is going through!

  5. Hilarious! Seriously the blood would be enough to send me running for the hills and I have 4 kids so I'm not makes me vomit in my mouth!



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